Most food guides for Italy suffer from the “too-much, too-little” syndrome. The territory is vast, yet for each city and village they rarely provide enough information. This guide focuses on a manageable territory–Liguria–and covers it in depth with an emphasis on understanding the local culture through its food. This is not an encyclopedic volume but a renowned food writer’s highly selective guide to Liguria’s authentic small eateries, culinary traditions, wine, wineries, food artisans, and gourmet shops. (The “big” restaurants are covered in a short and amusing sidebar that lists the places that everyone knows and can read about in any guide or on the Internet: a tip of the hat to the great toques, but many other suggestions are given so the reader can dine elsewhere. In Italy, the restaurants Michelin rewards with multiple stars have little to do with regional or local food.) Recommendations center on “where the locals eat.” The book is also lavishly photographed, perfect for the armchair traveler. There is a glossary of food items and unusual specialties, as well as a typical Ligurian menu, detailed indexes, many sidebars, and a map.
Learn all about the savory Ligurian flatbread called farinata (and where to buy farinata baking pans), garlic (raw in local dishes, braids, the pink heirloom variety from the village of Vessalico, and the village’s annual garlic festival), pesto mania (and a profile of the hothouses of the western Genoese suburb of Prà that produce what most Italians and 99.9 percent of Ligurians claim to be the world’s best commercially grown basil) and which restaurants serve authentic mortar-and-pestle-made pesto, as well as dozens of other regional topics.